May 26, 1991
I was frankly puzzled to see a recent book of mine, "Vaslav Nijinsky: A Leap Into Madness," described (by reviewer Alex Raksin, March 3) as "psychobiography." Nowhere in the text or on the dust jacket is this term used. The work is a straightforward biography, based on documents and eye-witness reports. Its purpose, as the preface makes clear, is to explore "the origins, manifestations, and treatment of Vaslav Nijinsky's madness." I was happy to read that the reviewer felt "moved" by my descriptions of the great dancer's mental illness.
March 3, 1991 |
VASLAV NIJINSKY: A Leap Into Madness by Peter Ostwald (Lyle Stuart: $19.95; 358 pp.). In the late 1970s, psychobiography's "science of personality" promised to demystify the great figures of history (and thus history itself) far more effectively than traditional "literary" biography.
February 22, 2004 |
In life, Sergei Diaghilev and Romola de Pulszky both loved the great virtuoso dancer Vaslav Nijinsky and thought they'd won him. But Diaghilev lost him to Pulszky, who married Nijinsky in 1913, and she, in turn, lost him to mental illness only six years later. These events formed the narrative spine of "Nijinsky," a two-act dance drama performed by the Hamburg Ballet at the Orange County Performing Arts Center earlier this month.
November 3, 1994 |
S tay on the grass. That was the mandate at Sunday's tea at the immense Italian villa in South Laguna Beach that belongs to Severin Wunderman, founder of the Severin Wunderman Museum in Irvine. Guests could sip water under the rose-smothered gazebo, on a patio perched above the roaring sea, but tours of the $10-million Mediterranean digs were forbidden. In fact, if guests even came close to a stairway leading to Wunderman's front door, security guards shooed them away. "What?
October 5, 2000 |
Although he gave his last performance in 1917, and no known film exists of his dancing, Vaslav Nijinsky remains an endlessly fascinating symbol of the 20th century artist as genius, celebrity, sexual outlaw and madman. Born in Kiev of Polish parents in 1890, he danced for only a decade and spent more than half his life in a mental asylum before he died in London in 1950.
November 3, 1994 |
When mental illness began to bring a premature end to Vaslav Nijinsky's career early this century, the renowned ballet dancer turned to visual art for self-expression. Unfortunately, until recently his works were dismissed as the idle, worthless doodlings of a madman. "The drawings are psychopathic charts," wrote American painter Marsden Hartley in the early 1940s, "and that is all that can be said of them."